N. Lincoln Hanks - N. Lincoln Hanks
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Publisher Desc. Program Note I. Katy CruelA version of this folksong was popular during the American Revolutionary period. The ditty depicts a female character in contradictory terms: one who admits she is perceived by others to be a non-entity, while also possessing a confident sense of self. It is a nonsense song, and we can infer from the words that Katy was wild and frenetic in nature. However, she also bore some sadness in her life. The music reels with her unbridled spirit.II. Fare Thee WellThis song was first discovered by famed musicologist and folklorist John Lomax in 1909. He came across an African American woman named Dink washing clothes on the bank of the Brazos River near College Station, Texas. The locals informed him that she loved to sing, and after some coaxing by Lomaxs wife, Bess (Brown) Lomax, Dink sang a haunting melody of unrequited love for the recording. My setting contextualizes her song of melancholy, imbuing it with a harmonic language and a slow rhythmic pace that not only conveys the unrelenting heat and humidity that surrounds her as she works and sings, but also the oppressive and doleful thoughts of lost love that plagues her mind.III. Slack Your RopeAlso called "The Maid Freed from the Gallows," this song has been in the folksong repertoire for centuries, and its origin is not known. The story here is of a young maiden convicted of some crime and sentenced to hang. All that is required for her freedom is a certain amount of gold to pay her debts (or to bribe the hangman), but her mother, father. and others close to her will not or cannot pay. Finally, her lover rides into view and comes to her. Will she find redemption at the end?
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